Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
Freed from the obligations of war with the terrorists in the first season, Sagara Sousuke now remains in school with Chidori Kaname, as her unofficial "protector". But since he's never known human society outside of a battlefield, it's going to take the combined efforts of the rest of the cast to (forcefully) turn Sousuke into a peaceful, passive and *normal* student.
Full Metal Panic has always been like a cheeky look at the anime tradition of making mecha/military experts young teenagers and having them handle the trouble of integrating into a normal, peaceful society. Sousuke, an Armor Slave specialist, was raised as an elite soldier since a very young age and has never known peace. Since he grew up in exotic places such as Cambodia and Afghanistan (it's always Afghanistan, isn't it?) he sees danger, battle tactics or enemy threat in almost everything. On the other hand, Kaname is just a normal high school girl who looks like a sweet, attractive beauty (and she is) until she's forced to compensate for Sousuke's lack of common sense. Then, we get to see the forceful and dominating part of her as she whacks, scolds and prods Sousuke into submission, usually with her paper fan (here's another Inagawa Yuu!).
Unlike the first season, Fumoffu focuses solely on the school life that Sousuke and Kaname lead, which was something fun but hardly touched on previously. Each episode is an individual story involving something like Sousuke blowing up the school lockers because he detected something was placed inside (actually it was a love letter), or a class excursion to the beach. Having no invading aliens or malevolent evil force to threaten the world (and flesh out the plot), Fumoffu instead relies heavily on the interaction between Kaname and Sousuke. If you've seen Full Metal Panic before, you'll know that the two characters fit each other *perfectly* - Kaname does have a little affection for Sousuke, but usually ends up acting like his mother, dragging him along to mend the damage that he does. The seiyuu for these two couldn't have been better as well, and they carry out the lovers' quarrels in such a natural way that would make even Ranma 1/2 fans weep with joy.
And since it's a school life title, we get to see a bit more of the other characters - like Kyoko, Kaname's nosey pig-tailed friend from the first season, the guy-crazy Mizuki, the eccentric student body president and even Captain Tessa. Although they do get more involved in than before, focus is still on the main two. Interestingly, people who have not watched the first season can watch Fumoffu as references are rarely made to the original, and other than having to understand the relationship between the characters and their background story, everything else is self-contained here.
Fortunately, the art quality hasn't suffered much since the first season. The character designs have altered slightly, shifting away from the sharp lines of the serious first season to a more rounded look for the lighter sequel. The girls also look a lot less chesty and more normally proportioned. That's good, since no matter how many hentai doujinshi they make out of this, it's still not a hentai title - people should look...normal. In addition to that, there doesn't look to be any mecha action this time 'round, so fans hoping for some AS battles might be sorely disappointed. Fear not, there are still ample explosions, gunshots and action scenes to satisfy your thirst for devastation. Like they say - where there's smoke, there's fire...and explosions, shotgun shells, booby traps, and Sousuke standing right in the middle planting mines.
Interestingly enough, Fumoffu also contains references to other titles and movies. The most noticeable one is an imitation of the overused Matrix scene with Keanu Reeves dodging a bullet while bending backwards (though the way it's done here is certainly different). Another one is the crazy policewoman character who drives a mini-patrol car madly in chase of her prey. Sound familiar? It's almost *exactly* like You're Under Arrest, down to the patrol car look and to cap it all, the seiyuu doing the policewoman is none other than Hiramatsu Akiko, the voice of Miyuki in You're Under Arrest!
Just like the original, the soundtrack incorporates both jazzy numbers and quite a number of military-style tracks. In fact, if you heard the original FMP military theme and DID NOT think of the A-Team's theme song, then you were obviously not paying attention. Luckily, they didn't rip of the music from a retro TV show this time, and the music is refreshing and a lot lighter on the mood than the first series. The highlight of the music, however, is the pair of OP and ED songs by Shimokawa Mikuni (who also did the songs for the first). The intro is a melodious acoustic song that I believe is one of her best songs yet, and an ending sounding *just* like The Game of Love, which Michelle Branch performed with Santana - carrying the same beat and with an electric guitar improvising through most of the song. Great stuff.
Though this is not a full review, I venture to say that the plot will continue this way and not involve a darker plot twist, since there's no "serious" element of the story so far.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu gets my sweaty thumbs-up for being a whole lot of fun and keeping true to the style of the original, while keeping the classic interaction between Kaname and Sousuke. This is Ranma 1/2 for mecha fanboys - splash yourself with cold water and watch it.
An entertaining comedy that can be watched by fans of Full Metal Panic and those who aren't. If you've gotten tired of Sousuke then subtract two stars. If you don't like comedy titles then subtract two. Otherwise, keep this title in mind when padding your collection. — Enoch Lau
Recommended Audience: There's the usual paper fan violence from Kaname, and explosions (and more explosions) from Sousuke. Though things blow up and guns get fired, people don't get hurt (think of Jackie Chan's movies). There are one or two intense scenes (like one in a haunted hospital) which may scare a few young viewers, but generally this title is suitable for young teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (11/15)
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu © 2003 Shoji Gato • Shikidouji / Jindai High School Student Committee
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